Talks, festivals mark anniversary of writer and public figure Ilia Chavchavadze, 8 Nov 2017 - 16:24, Tbilisi,Georgia

Public talks, festival events and other activities are held in Georgia's capital and countryside today to mark the 180th anniversary of the birth of the revered public figure and a leader of the 19th century Georgian national movement Ilia Chavchavadze.

In Tbilisi, the village of Saguramo and the eastern Georgian town of Kvareli the celebratory events are hosting visitors of all ages in discussions and performances in recognition of the legacy of the writer, publisher and poet.

These include lectures on Chavchavadze's work ranging from local self-government and agriculture to the role of banks and spreading literacy in Georgia's countryside.

Tbilisi Metro passengers read a 1909 issue of newspaper 'Iveria', printed for anniversary celebrations. Photo: Tbilisi City Hall press office.

The Saguramo location, about 25km north of Tbilisi, is where the museum dedicated to Chavchavadze's life and work is located, while Kvareli is the town in the winemaking province of Kakheti where the poet was born in 1837.

Contemporary writers, government officials, academics and citizens of other occupations are featured in the program of day-long public talks while local producers are exhibiting their food and beverages for a festive mood.

Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili praised the "essence and scale" of Chavchavadze's work within the contemporary history of Georgia in his congratulatory message for the anniversary today.

The 19th century historic figure was also called "one of the principal creators of the contemporary Georgia" by President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili in his address.

Marking the occasion, a historical issue of the political and literary periodical Iveria, founded and edited by Chavchavadze, was printed and presented to citizens of Tbilisi today.

Passengers of the city's public transport found copies of a July 1909 edition of the newspaper on their seats, within the initiative to re-live the importance of the journalistic work for the Georgian culture and nationhood by the celebrated writer.

The celebratory program marking the anniversary is titled Ilia - Our Contemporary, to mark the relevance of Chavchavadze's modern ideas on entrepreneurship and nationhood to today's independent Georgia.

The 'Iveria' issue was also distributed throughout buses serving passengers of the capital city. Photo: Tbilisi City Hall press office.

A major figure of the 19th century Georgian national movement against the Russian Imperial control, Chavchavadze authored numerous literary works and worked as editor of pioneering Georgian publications Iveria and Moambe.

He also founded the Society for the Spreading of Literacy Among Georgians, the Bank of the Nobility and other organisations of cultural, educational and social importance.

Serving as a member of the Imperial Russian State Council from 1906-1907, Chavchavadze was also member of the Anglo-Russian Literary Society and translated works of English literature.

Chavchavadze's work for the struggle for preservation of the Georgian language under the foreign rule is widely recognised today, however it also took place in the circumstance of political and social discord in Georgia under the Russian rule.

He was ambushed and assassinated near Saguramo in 1907 in an incident shrouded by controversy. The event subsequently sparked numerous theories about the murderers and wider discussions on national and social matters in the country.

The anniversary will also be marked within Georgia's participation as the official Guest of Honour at the 2018 Frankfurt Book Fair, with a publication of some of Chavchavadze's most recognised works translated and published in German.

The collection will include novels Letters of a Traveller and Otaraant Widow and will be translated by Kristiane Lichtenfeld for publication by the Wiesbaden-based Reichert Verlag.